What Is Sebum? This Is What You Must Know to Maintain Balanced Skin


If you had to select a relationship status between you and your sebum, “it’s complex” would likely be the answer. On the one hand, sebum keeps your skin hydrated and healthy, which contributes to that greatly desired natural shine. On the other hand, excessive sebum can result in an unpleasant slickness that exacerbates acne and makes pores appear large. And when does one lack sufficient sebum? Goodbye, supple, itchy skin.

With the help of a dermatologist, we’ll explain what sebum is, its crucial function in skin health, and how to achieve equilibrium once and for all.

What Is Sebum Anyway?
Sebum is the oily material secreted by the sebaceous glands of the skin. Marie Hayag, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics in New York City, explains, “It is composed of fatty acids, waxes, and sugars that help preserve and hydrate your skin.” Because there are so many pores on the face, sebum tends to accumulate here more than on other regions of the body.

Why maintaining a healthy sebum level is crucial
Balanced sebum levels maintain our skin’s smoothness, hydration, and health. When our body creates excessive sebum, it may make our skin seem and feel oily, enlarge our pores, and potentially cause or aggravate acne. When we lack sufficient moisture, our skin gets dry and tight and can occasionally seem and feel rough, scratchy, and delicate. Extreme instances result in skin that is damaged and compromised.

There’s more. Dr. Hayag continues, “Sebum protects against moisture loss and works as a physical barrier against germs and fungus.” “In addition to protecting against UV radiation, sebum lipids transfer lipid-soluble antioxidants to the skin.” Other sebum components, like squalene and fatty acids, also possess anti-inflammatory effects.

How to Deal with Excessive Sebum
Those with sebaceous glands that generate more sebum than usual tend to have oily, greasy skin. This much oil may contribute to acne, blackheads, and whiteheads by trapping dirt, debris, dead skin cells, and germs in the pores.

Dr. Hayag explains that sebum overproduction is frequently caused by hormone changes, lifestyle factors, and/or drugs. In addition, oily skin is more prevalent between the ages of 15 and 25, when hormonal swings are at their most intense. One of the finest things you can do if you have excessive sebum is to take a mild and consistent approach to skincare.

Cleanse: Use a gentle cleanser to wash your face in the morning and evening. Excessive washing might backfire and increase sebum production.
Moisturize: Use a moisturizer each time you cleanse. Avoid heavy, oil-based products and instead use water-based formulas.
Two to three times each week, Dr. Hayag suggests exfoliating using an AHA or BHA exfoliator, such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid. This will also help with acne.
Clay mask: If you want to help reduce the appearance of huge pores, apply a clay mask once or twice a week.
Dr. Hayag states that acne caused by abundant sebum can be treated with topical or oral antibiotics, corticosteroids, and retinoids.
How to Deal With Insufficient Sebum
If your skin feels dry, flaky, itchy, tight, or otherwise irritated, you probably have insufficient sebum. Age is a significant issue here. Although we may become wiser as we age, we also tend to become drier.

David J. Goldberg, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group, explains, “As we age, our hormones decline and our sebaceous glands generate less oil.” Cold and dry locations, where the air is inherently less humid, exacerbate the problem.

Other causes of reduced sebum production include indoor heating, exposure to harsh chemicals, a poor diet, inadequate hydration, medicines, and harsh exfoliants for the skin. Adjustments to one’s lifestyle and an intensively hydrated skincare regimen can assist in increasing skin hydration.

Oil Cleansing: For a more hydrating wash, substitute an oil or balm cleanser. Additionally, you may choose to wash your face simply once in the evening.
By layering moisturizers, you may help your skin absorb more of the hydration it requires. Apply a moisturizing essence or toner, a hyaluronic acid serum, and finally a thick, oil-based cream after cleaning.
Take Short, Warm Showers: Long, hot baths help remove the sebum from your skin. Keep it brief and avoid using scalding water. Also helpful is using a moisturizer within 10 minutes of showering.
Hydrating Masks: In the same way that deep conditioners may revive dry hair, a hydrating face mask can help restore the skin’s hydration. Aim for application once or twice each week.
Increase Your Water Intake: Ensure that you are consuming the daily recommended quantity of water. Consider that you require extra water when it’s hot or you’ve been active.
Introduce a Humidifier: According to Dr. Goldberg, introducing a humidifier to your bedroom, workplace, or living room can help keep your skin moisturized.